by Belén Fernández
Much has been written In English about the experiences and treatment of immigrants from south of the Rio Grande once they have entered the United States. But this account, by the itinerant, effervescent and highly original journalist Belén Fernández, offers a different and wholly original take.
Belén Fernández shows us what life is like for would-be migrants, not just from the Mexican side of the border but inside Siglo XXI, the notorious migrant detention center in the south of the country.
Journalists are prohibited from entering Siglo XXI; Fernández only gained access because she herself was detained as a result of faulty paperwork when she attempted to return to the US to renew her passport. Once inside the facility, Fernández was able to speak with detained women from Honduras, Cuba, Haiti, Bangladesh, and beyond. Their stories, detailing the hardships that prompted them to leave their homes, and the dangers they have experienced on an often-tortuous journey north, form the core of this unique book. The companionship and support they offer to Fernández, whose antipathy to returning to the United States, the country they are desperate to enter, is a source of bemusement and perplexity, demonstrates a spirited generosity that is deeply moving.
In the end, the Siglo XXI center emerges as a strikingly precise metaphor for a 21st century in which poor people, effectively imprisoned by American political and economic policies, nevertheless display astonishing resilience.
"A chilling vision of the 'imperial fucking holding pen' in México, where the US exportation of public misery meets Fernández's penetrating critique. Precisely in a moment when we need more and better knowledge about how US policies perpetuate police death, mass incarceration and imperial femicide, Fernández's unsettling book gives it to us." -- Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera, Professor, Universidad de Puerto Rico-Mayagüez
"One of the most poignant, searing, and, at times, deadpan critiques of the United States and its mass media that I have ever read... An extraordinary and unorthodox travelogue." -- The Los Angeles Review of Books on Fernández's Exile
"This is a travel memoir like no other: incredibly funny, observant, humane, anarchic, politically incisive, sophisticated, and raffish. Belén Fernández is a dangerously enchanting siren." -- Francisco Goldman, author of Monkey Boy, on Fernández's Exile
About the Author:
Belén Fernández, is a contributing editor at Jacobin, and has written for The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and Middle East Eye. She is the author of Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World and The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work.